Today was chicken butchering day. But this time, since Tom is working full-time, I had to deal with it. Above are the roosters we raised since June. They are mostly dual purpose heritage breeds so there rooster chicks would likely have been killed as chicks if we had not have purchased them That is my one (of two) consolations of the day. Below are the roosters after I caught them, put them in crates, moved them to the truck and loaded them there.
And here are our chickens in front of the processing plant. It was a rainy windy day which contributed to the bleakness of it all.
And here are the 25 chickens overflowing our coolers in the back seat of the trunk.
We did have a very good chicken dinner tonight (consolation #2).
In completely unrelated news, we are breeding our Shetland ram Lewis to our Gotland-Finn ewe Tanya. It is partially to save Lewis from the cougar, to give him a companion after Jocko died, and to produce lamb meat in a year’s time.
There was some excitement here while I was retreating. One evening Tom went out to bottle feed our orphan calf. The dogs went with him as usual but then started going crazy, jumping at the fence to the donkey pen and barking (even our beagle). Tom saw a dark flash going from the front of the pen (very close to our barn!) toward the back. He didn’t think much of it as he thought it was a donkey and continued through the gate toward the calf. But then he shined a light and saw the 2 sets of donkeys eyes out back and another set of very large eyes in the back of the pen. He started yelling at it, but it walked very slowly away from him. He then set the bottle on a post and headed to the house to get a gun. He accidentally grabbed bird shot instead of hollow point bullets in his haste and headed back to the pasture. When he got to the fields the donkeys had returned to their pen (and it is highly unusual for them to be out of their pen after dark), and the other set of very large eyes (larger than cow eyes) was on the back fence line and not moving much. The llama had run to the back of the field near the fence with its ears back. Tom went into the field with the calf and the eyes were still there barely moving. He yelled at it some more but no response. He walked to the fence line, and the animal was 20 yards away and not scared of him. He made sure again it was not a donkey, and as he continued to yell at it he shot at it three times. It then ran away toward the neighbors.
The next day, Tom found what looked like cougar prints near our boundary fence from the neighbors. We have not seen it since, but the llama is constantly in the field watching the back fence. I found these prints today, in the middle region of our back fence. They are in the sand near our ditch and are fresh since the last rain. They are larger than Mopar’s prints so bigger than a large dog’s.
I have been bugging Tom for a while that he needs to show me how to shoot a gun. Now he really needs to.
We shut the donkeys into their pen so they do not have access out back anymore. I moved the cows including the calf into the front field with the sheep. I moved the ram into a pen in the barn. I will lock the goats in the barn at night. We have been keeping our bedroom window open at night (which is challenging with these frigid temperatures) to listen for any commotion. We will keep patrolling the back of our property. Hopefully this will keep our animals from becoming a cougar’s dinner.